Author Archives: ervann

Scrawl’s short film ‘Flats’ wins at VSIFF 2011

Scrawl Studios’ short film about a pair of siblings as they explore their HDB estate after school – and a paean to our living Singapore landscape – took home the “I Want To Remember” award, sponsored by the Singapore Arts Festival, at the recently concluded Very Short International Film Festival 2011.

Founded in Paris and now in its 13th year, The VSIFF is an international event that spans 20 countries and 80 cities, providing an integrated platform for screenings, workshops and competition in each country. View the film HERE.


MIPTV 2011

Off we go to another trip to the south of France – that beautiful, if somewhat tiresome town called Cannes. It’s April, which means its MIPTV.

It felt like yesterday when I was blogging about MIPCOM, which was 6 months ago.  What’s gotten annoying about MIPTV is that it’s literally just over a month after Kidscreen in New York. Seriously, how many of these markets do we need?

It’s especially rough for producers based in Asia like us. 36 hours on a plane (to and fro) including layovers is time you don’t get back. I do empathize with our Australian colleagues, who probably travel the furthest from down under to reach Cannes.

Back to MIPTV. One thing good about this year’s market is that it was shortened by a day. Usually the market lasts 5 days (Mon-Fri). This year, it ends on Thursday. Given as we typically leave a day earlier, that means it’s a smash and grab, quick 3-night stay before we jet back home.

It’s a nice thought, but not after you think about the time and money spent just to be able to walk through the main door of the Palais with that MIPTV badge around your neck.

It’s become a cliché to say that the market is ‘quieter this time’. Yet somehow each year the participant numbers released by ReedMidem (the organizer) show more people are at MIP, regardless of how slow traffic seemed to be on the show floor. Well, this year Reed actually said the number of participants was the same as last year. I guess attendance must have fallen.

I think I really need an extended stay in Europe, maybe a detour to Paris or Milan or Prague or Madrid, to erase this muted contempt I have for coming all the way here. Eleven times in Cannes and I’ve never gone anywhere else after the market except back home.

As always, two things in Cannes that make it almost worthwhile:

1)      Catching up with friends and making new contacts and just talking about the business with different people other than my colleagues. It’s amazing how obvious it is sometimes to tell apart those who are truly passionate about the business that you literally feel the kid inside them struggling to break free, and those who see it plainly as a business. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either, and we obviously need both, but one does get reminded of the reasons why we do this. With each passing year in the industry, I find myself becoming a bit more reflective, and occasionally flirt with the philosophy side of this thing called making cartoons. If it takes coming to Cannes a couple of times a year to get me in that mood, I’m cool with it.

2)   The Riveria weather. If Singapore’s like that all year round, I’ll happily report for reserve army training.

Same apartment as last year.

View from balcony. Crisp morning air.

Every year someone got something made in Singapore…

Singapore Pavilion

Singapore and Malaysia Pavilions separated by the Red Sea.

10 bloody Euros for this feast in between meetings.

Choon Meng has a more evolved taste for French food than I do.

Breakfast at the pastry shop below the apartment.

Embarrassingly early for our dinner meeting.

It was hotter than it looks. The weather – not the suit / shades combo.

Choon Meng calling to check why his private yacht is late.

Not quite Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Choon Meng’s choice of travel literature. You know – light, easy-reading stuff.

Munich airport on transit. Never seen a barber shop in an airport before. A cut above the rest, clearly.

Best thing about German airports – Bavarian lager. Noyce.



Happy Rabbit New Year!

Funny that as we finish up on one rabbit show, another one is about to start and will consume much of 2011. Add the fact that 70% of senior management are born in the year of the Rabbit, there’s certainly gonna be lots of jumpin’ and humpin’ around this year.

Goodbye Bunny…

Hello Hare…

 

 

 


Healthy Lifestyle

Poll by Scrawl staff (only 50% voted) on their preferred sport / exercise activity on each Thursday, starting…today!


Ciao 2010

In a year that some might say wasn’t the best for the Singapore animation industry (and there are reasons that shall be left for another post), we have to be thankful that the studio has been kept busy and was able to throw a Christmas party in joyous spirits, and most of us were able to take a few days’ break to recharge. I’m not sure there are easy days for anyone in the business of animation these days. You’re either scrambling for projects or financing for them (often both), and even after the projects come in the headaches have just begun as a massive 12-18 month operation beckons. It’s also a business that hardens you with disappointments, be it a project that falls through, or one that never seems able to take off. Yet, we soldier on, as perseverance is worth dusts of gold in this game. There are no overnight success in this business, and every once of experience and dexterity the studio has acquired over the last 8 years have provided the solid basis for sustainability. Eventually, projects do come in, and perhaps this year we might even see one or two originals get off the ground. Uncertainty breeds opportunities and vice versa. The ride’s been bumpy but we’ve covered good distance so far, and even managed to bring a few more people onboard. Who knows what 2011 might bring in this ongoing voyage?

 


ATF 2010

The Asia Television Forum is the last ‘major’ international content market of the year.  It feels like an after party of MIPCOM, which was just under two months ago.

Taking up two halls of the Suntec Convention Centre, it’s not a big footprint in terms real estate, and quite frankly the traffic’s been pretty low for the last two years. I can’t imagine the statistic increasing this year, once the organiser releases the attendee numbers (even though I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow they did ‘go up’). I’ve been at the last seven ATFs, and this is certainly the quietest one I’ve seen.

Being held in Singapore, naturally we try to have some sort of a presence. This means taking up a ‘stall space’ under the Singapore Pavilion. It’s a nice setup this year, although for all practical purposes, not very conducive for meetings. We felt like salesmen at a cosmetic booth most of the time.

ATF is largely recognised as an ‘Asia-centric’ market, where buyers tend to come from the region, but there is still a fair amount of international presence. I suppose there are worse places to visit than Singapore for a last business trip of the year.

The generally lighter traffic means we tend to have fewer meetings than the usual overseas markets. Or maybe because it’s held on ‘home ground’, we take it a little easier, and really just try to meet the key people and spend more time talking instead of having back-to-back 30-minute ‘speed dating’ sessions.

Personally, I find ATF is one too many market for the year. With the traffic being so light, it only serves to strengthen that belief. Either the organiser seriously look at a revamp or ways to bring in the buyers and exhibitors, it’s hard to see numbers improving as long the economy continues to tread water.

There are larger macro-factors involved as well, with Asia being such a fragmented market and license fees looking like pocket change that one hopes adds up to something decent. As such some may feel ATF isn’t worth attending, since most of the buyers do show up at the MIPs anyway.

At the same time, every dollar of license fee counts in this business these days, so a sale is still a sale – even if it’s one that puts just a touch of icing on another tough year in this wonderful, frustrating, dysfunctional and bizarre industry that is TV production.

See you at ATF 2011 I guess.


Monsoon Season

View from office

December sneaked in like a silent kitten, but here in Singapore, the unmistakable sign that the year end is fast approaching is undoubtedly the thunderstorms that pelt the island almost each afternoon, courtesy of the Northeast Monsoon.

Now, it rains pretty much all year round in Singapore so we’re generally an umbrella-friendly bunch . But monsoon rain is something else. If the perennial afternoon rain we get is a pick-up truck, then monsoon rain is a 10-ton wrecker.

Indeed, we often experience our version of the 4 seasons in a single day – warm mornings, scorching mid-days, cool and windy afternoons as the clouds gather, and cold evenings after a few hours of unrelenting downpour. To qualify, ‘cold’ here really hovers around 24-26 degree Celsius.

A few weeks ago, Lisa Henson from the Jim Henson Company dropped in for a visit. After lunch we drove her to her next appointment, and the sky opened up and poured like it’s from a bucket. It’s not easy driving in one of these downpours I can tell you. Visibility is pretty much limited to 10-15 metres ahead, the rain pelts the car and windscreen like it’s trying to beat you into submission, and add to all that the general pandemonium that’s happening outside – flooded roads, roaring winds, flashes of lights from vehicles that you can’t quite tell if they’re 10 or 50 metres ahead…anyway, you get the idea.

It was apparent that Lisa’s never been in weather like that. She was visibly a mix of excitement, awe, and probably genuine concern – that her life could well be in the hands of a driver who kept looking back at her reaction to the weather through the rear view mirror instead of looking at the road ahead. Meantime the other two gentlemen in the car – Choon Meng and Chi Kong – just joked away like two kids experiencing an automatic car wash for the first time.

I’m glad to report that we got Lisa safely to her destination, and she’s even be on the email since. The ordeal appears over for Ms Henson.

Let’s see how the weather holds up for next week’s Asia TV Forum. Could have a few surprises in store for some unsuspecting overseas guests not used to torrential downpours.